Travel Drinking: France - Something To Declare

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Trouble spots: compensation for being hijacked

No insurance policy that I can find covers the sort of scare that passengers on a British Airways 747 flying from San Francisco to Heathrow experienced last weekend, when an announcement about a forced landing was mistakenly broadcast.

But the tour operator Unijet (now part of the First Choice group) will pay compensation to customers who are unfortunate enough to be hijacked:

"Unijet Travel Limited passengers will be paid pounds 5 for delays of 6-8 hours, pounds 10 for 8-12 hours and pounds 20 for delays of over 12 hours plus pounds 20 for each subsequent 12 hours delay up to a maximum of pounds 100." So if the hijack is less than six hours you get nothing, but after 60 hours you get pounds 100.

A likely story

Manchester to Mexico in 14 hours - Thomson Faraway Shores brochure, 1999- 2000

There are many ways of getting from Manchester to the Pacific resort of Puerto Vallarta in 14 hours or less; unfortunately, the Britannia charter flight that begins its summer season of flights to the resort next Monday is not among them.

The trip aboard a Britannia Boeing 767 begins with a short hop to Gatwick, and a wait of two hours; then the plane has to stop to refuel again in Orlando, Florida. Passengers can expect finally to land at Puerto Vallarta after 18 hours.

True or false?

We're all going on a

summer holiday

False, at least for those of us who happen to be 26 or over, and thereby excluded from the deep discounts being offered for four days only next week. The student and youth travel specialist, Usit Campus (0870 240 1010) has a quick sale for travel in July and August. The company has struck a deal with Lufthansa that offers peak-season tickets at absurd prices for travellers prepared to change planes in Frankfurt. Flights to Mexico City cost pounds 219, to Delhi pounds 251 and to Hong Kong pounds 309; for travel in June, fares are lower still. Now where was that birth certificate and bottle of Tip-pex?

Bargain of the week:

cheap Channel crossings

Two months from today, duty-free sales within the European Union will end. Until then, the hidden

subsidies from selling alcohol and tobacco are enabling Eurotunnel and the ferry companies to offer some low fares for short breaks to France.

Eurotunnel (0990 353535) offers a return fare of pounds 35 from Folkestone to Calais for a one-night stand in France, for a car and up to nine people. It is available for departures after noon on day one, returning by 4pm on day two. In the western Channel, Brittany Ferries (0990 360360) is selling a "24-hour in France" return on all its routes: Portsmouth to Caen, Poole to Cherbourg or Portsmouth to St Malo and Plymouth to Roscoff. Each person pays pounds 11.95 return, plus the same for the car. Therefore two people and a car can travel for less than pounds 36, though on Friday evening sailings cars cost an extra pounds 10.

Also check the specials from P&O Stena (087 0600 0600), SeaFrance (0990 711711), Hoverspeed (08705 240 241) and P&O Portsmouth (0990 980555).

If duty-free shopping is abolished, increased fares are expected - though new, extensive duty-paid shops will allow operators to continue to cross- subsidise fares from retail sales.

This week P&O Stena Line said it expected abolition to go ahead.